Feasts of Yesterday

Submitted by Anna on Thu, 01/26/2012 - 20:07

The cloth sweeps against the floor,
Long ago embroidered with care, fit
For many people to admire while they ate.
Now white is red by drink and brown from gravy,
Grease-stained from spills and careless children. [5]
The plates are crooked on the edge,
Crumbs tumbling on the chairs, 
Which knock each other, knock the table, 
For those who sat in them, having devoured,
Abandon the mess and repose in other places. [10]
Once this barren table sparkled with wineglasses
Under the lamps overhead, electric and piercing.
Steam rose from the plates of hot food,
Smelling so rich with seasoning that one
Could taste his casserole by walking into the room. [15]
Merry were the guests, 
Who brought friends upon friends,
And they ate without parallel, in between laughter—
How the food did fly from their mouths!
Alas for the white tablecloth! [20]
This is how the dining room came to ruin,
The feasts of yesterday forgotten
As the lone denizens of the home file in
To stack the desolate dishes and scrape the last peas into the trashcan,
To wash the tablecloth, though it will never be clean again. [25]
The guests overwhelmed the hosts with their numbers;
Like an army in a pasture was this crowd at the meal,
For they consumed all the precious turkey,
And the mashed potatoes meant to last a week
Now fill the bellies of uninvited guests. [30]
On weekends past, many a hearty eater
Had weighed at the head of the table,
Given thanks for the bounty, and yet left plenty for all.
A family of eight could share in peace,
Filled till midnight’s snack. [35]
Where hast gone the silverware?
The forks, the knives, the spoons?
The great meat knife and humble spatula that fed so many?
Gone, gone to the dishwasher—
To repeat their toil next Thanksgiving dinner. [40]

Author's age when written